An economic downturn as bad as we have seen in decades has descended upon the land and the golfing world has not been exempt. Tournament sponsors have been scurrying away, television advertisers have been tightening their purse strings and players endorsement contracts have been going the way of the Dodo bird.
It has been bad - but what has made it even worse is that the World #1 Tiger Woods has missed over 8 months with a knee injury!
Granted, the earth didnt' stop spinning and people didn't stop playing golf. Since Tiger's victory at the US Open, we have seen Padraig Harrington win back-to-back majors. We witnessed the Americans and their improbably Ryder Cup victory and watched as Vijay Singh won the FedEx Cup needing only to finish 4 rounds in the year end tournament to do so. Yet, despite those engrossing storylines, golf, for some unknown reason, loses relevance without Tiger Woods in the field.
But on February 25, 2009 that will all change - Tiger is Back
Tiger has decided to defend his title and make his come back at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. I personally find this a little curious given that he can easily over come a bad round or two in a full event where the competition needs to beat him over the course of 72 holes, but in match play, a slow start can end your hopes in a heartbeat.
Tiger has played in just one tournament in the past 10 months so is it realistic to think that he will play well this week? Play really, well this week? WIN this week? I don't know, but I do know that I wouldn't beat against Tiger Woods.
Tiger has alway maintained that he will not play in an event if he doesn't think that he can win it, so I guess he is feeling pretty good about his chances.....
This week aside, what would some reasonable goals be for Tiger in 2009? My list includes the following:
- Majors - everyone knows that Tiger is all about beating Jack's record for Majors won, I think that a realistic goal for Tiger in 2009 is to walk away with one Major and upping his career total to 15.
- Tournament Wins - Tiger averages between 16 and 18 events per season. He has already missed two of his normal starts so assuming that he doesn't have a set-back with the knee, I'll guess that he will play his normal schedule meaning that he could play in 14-16 torunaments this year. I won't be bold enough to predict that he'll win 50% of his starts, but I'd be very surprized if he didn't up his career win total by at least 5 this year.
- FedEx Cup - if Vijay can win it without for all intents and purposes playing the last tournament of the year I'm thinking that Tiger can make it 2 wins out of 3 years. He may not run away with things, but I think he will play enough to hold off all others.
- End of Year Awards - Awarded annually to the PGA scoring average leader with a minimum of 60 rounds played the Vardon trophy probably will NOT find its way into Tiger's trophy case this year, but only because he probably won't get in the 60 required rounds. If I was a betting man I'd have a LOT of money on Tiger to win the Player of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year awards as well as the Money Title in 2009.
And those are some more of Scott's Arbitrary Thoughts.....